MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Williams holds steady with lineup for Game 3

Williams holds steady with lineup for Game 3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals manager Matt Williams decided not to start slugger Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Jose Lobaton in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Giants on Monday.

Williams indicated earlier in the series that giving Zimmerman a start in one of the games was possible. The most likely game would have been Game 3, because left-hander Madison Bumgarner started for San Francisco.

Williams pointed out that Zimmerman had been 3-for-17 (.176) with a home run and three RBIs in his career against Bumgarner, and that Williams was comfortable with left-handed hitters Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche facing Bumgarner. Harper was 3-for-9, and LaRoche 6-for-21, against Bumgarner.

  Date Time Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 3   SF 3, WAS 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 4   SF 2, WAS 1 (18 inn.) video
Gm 3 Oct. 6   WAS 4, SF 1 video
Gm 4 Oct. 7   SF 3, WAS 2 video
Zimmerman missed most of the second half of the regular season because of a Grade 3 injury to his right hamstring, but Williams said health was not the reason Zimmerman did not start.

"There will certainly be opportunity for [Zimmerman], we hope, during the course of the game, to come up with a big at-bat for us," Williams said. "Zim's numbers against Bumgarner are not great. So our lefties hit him pretty well. We've got some hits and some RBIs and some homers against him. That's the reason."

Lobaton has a great rapport with right-hander Doug Fister. With Lobaton behind the plate, Fister had a 1.53 ERA during the regular season. Lobaton was behind the plate when Fister pitched a shutout in his final start of the regular season, against the Marlins. When Wilson Ramos was behind the plate, Fister had a 2.99 ERA.

Williams liked Ramos on Monday because the catcher can be a game changer with the bat.

"Wilson has the ability, with one swing of the bat, to change the face of the game," Williams said. "But with regard to the first two games, we need to make sure that we look to put our best offensive team in there, as well.

"But, you know, with the day game here, the ball carries a little bit better than it does at night. The weather's warm, so my experience, playing here in this area, and certainly this ballpark during the day, it's a better park to hit in."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.